The Early Years
Dr. Awan has been practicing sports medicine for over twelve years. Throughout his practice he has seen a large number of motivated patients who – despite undergoing extensive rehabilitative care – were unable to resolve their symptoms or would suffer injury recurrence and would find themselves returning. Upon further review of these cases, Dr. Awan found residual biomechanical deficits, weaknesses, postural issues, and inflexibility that were not being addressed well in conventional rehabilitation care. Many of the patients voiced that their rehabilitation care felt like an assembly line or followed “cookie-cutter” approaches. Patients who experienced improvements found that once they returned to the demands of their jobs, sports, or exercise regimes, the symptom(s) would recur. Dr. Awan began to recognize that in addition to an accurate diagnosis, effective rehabilitation care was also essential to ensure positive treatment outcomes.
The Path to a New Rehabilitation Model
Dr. Awan spent years analyzing cases with symptom recurrence looking for similarities, patterns, and clues as to why improvements were not made. When analyzing rehabilitation models, he detected that good exercise instruction was lacking so he explored a number of different treatment options in an attempt to help his patients. With the experience of a personal back injury that lead him to run through all the “traditional” rehabilitative methods, he came across rehabilitative Pilates and noticed his condition improved. Furthermore, he also noted a number of his patients were seeing positive outcomes using Pilates after failing other treatments. Thereafter, his belief that Pilates could be utilized as a powerful rehabilitation tool was solidified.
The Evolution of Synergy
After finding his way to Mind the Body on Queen Street West in Toronto, Dr. Awan was impressed by the exercise instruction and innovative techniques that were adopted there at the studio. He had attended classes for a year when he approached one of the co-owners of the studio, Riki Richter, regarding utilizing Pilates and Yoga as rehabilitative tools. Through collaboration they started to have success with a number of cases that had failed with alternative treatments. Gradually, he began to incorporate rehabilitation Pilates and Yoga instructors into his rehabilitation model.
Dr. Awan and Richter decided to collaborate on an outcomes-based rehabilitation model they call “Movement Based Rehabilitation”. Using their combined thirty years of experience in the field they incorporated a strong exercise component they felt was lacking in conventional rehabilitation programs.
As part of this model, they decided to explore the concept of using rehabilitative classes to teach exercises. The deficits addressed in the classes were programmed by Dr. Awan and were based on his experience with patients who did not improve with conventional rehab care. Riki programmed exercises that targeted these deficits and coached a team of teachers who had been working with her for years to create the Synergy Rehabilitative Pilates Programs. Synergy now offers four Rehabilitative Pilates Programs to address various musculoskeletal components. The programs include: Back Care, Hip & Knee, Neck & Shoulder, and Foot & Ankle.
The classes emphasize proper execution of exercises with good form, technique, alignment, and body awareness. They are designed to be complemented with an active self-management program. During the course of therapy it is expected that the prescribed exercise regimen be continued and sustained at home. The classes also focus on secondary prevention where the primary goal is to effectively correct the root deficits to truly address the underlying source of the problem and prevent recurrence. Specialized rehabilitation classes have been running since May 2011 and the feedback from clients – along with the outcomes – have been overwhelmingly positive.